It was unbelievable for my family and friends to digest the fact that a crazy meat-lover who once relished eating roasted Chicken Drumsticks, Hakka Chilli Chicken or sautéed Tilapia fish quit eating animal meat in the year 2008. For someone who was fed with the belief since childhood that consuming any animal protein was good for the health and general well-being to switch to a vegan diet wasn’t easy — and it didn’t happen all of a sudden.
When I was 35, I began to notice that the vegetarians and vegans around me were less annoying than those who consumed animal proteins. I also learned that a large number of people 40 years of age and older were developing diabetes, heart diseases and cancer. I learned that a high-fat, animal product-based diet led to impotency in many people. I didn’t need any more reasons to quit eating animals. There were occasions when family and friends would cajole me to gorge on delicious fish or a chicken curry meal, but I was unrelenting.
I am of the opinion that these lesser physical beings are part of the same Universe in which we live, and their inability to speak should never mean that they should be tortured and killed for our own sake. At times, I love watching the birds fly high in the sky, the cows grazing on the open meadows and the dolphins jumping in and out of the ocean. The fact that they take care of their infants suggests that they can feel and emote like us. They have a life of their own.
Some self-styled meat-eaters argue that it is completely okay to kill them because they are at a level below us in the food chain. But, it’s important to realize that since they are not as evolved as us, mentally and spiritually, we should be wiser than them — and have our actions reflect that.
Some might argue that old and the diseased animals are being liberated from pain upon receiving the “death blows.” Well, would you like yourself to be treated in the same way as those animals are in slaughter houses, to be used for another being’s consumption ? Non-vegans also might argue that it’s their “freedom of choice” to eat meat, but do they understand the demerits of consuming animal meat?
One can actually live a very healthy lifestyle without any meat, if one has the best substitutes available in the form of plant-based diet. As a vegan, I fill my diet with lot of green leafy vegetables, fruit juices, nuts, whole grains, etc., to not be deficient in either multivitamins or proteins. It is important to understand that most animal products are treated with antibiotics and hormones, which might make our body prone to infectious diseases.
But, to be as clear I can be, the reason for my going vegan was not just diet but also ethics.
To be a complete vegan, one needs to avoid wearing leather or use any cosmetic that is derived from animal products. I have seen people who derive pleasure by watching animals fight (such as bull fighting). As a vegan, I make every effort to not be a part of such activities — and certainly, I feel I am more human, pristine and divine than non-vegans.
I have often been trolled in social media space for writing on the issue of veganism, despite the fact that I never tried to thrust my lifestyle upon anyone. I have been called a self-proclaimed animal-rights activist by meat lovers and one who is always ready to push the agenda of Hinduism. Some journalists and bloggers argued with me during the course of a debate about whether choosing to be vegan was at all healthy. My answer has always been, “I guess you guys don’t love animals and I wish you would understood that our moral progress depends largely on becoming a vegan.”